The Entler Hotel on the corner of German and Princess Streets is one of Shepherdstown’s major historic icons. It is as much a symbol of the Town as McMurran Hall or the Rumsey Monument. And it is much older. Its origins go all the way back to 1786 when Philip Adam Entler bought the west part of the Entler lot from Christian Cookus and built a large brick house on it. This house burnt in 1912 but the foundations still remain.
Cookus also built a two-story brick building in 1786 on a portion of the Entler lot east of Philip Entler’s house. This building now houses the Historic Shepherdstown Museum. Cookus then built a two-story brick building, with a porch entrance that faced Princess Street.
Daniel Bedinger bought the remaining portion of lot No. 33, that Cookus had purchased from Thomas Shepherd in 1764. Bedinger built a three-story brick building that butted against the building that now houses the museum, and adjoined the Princess Street building. Bedinger owned all of the property that now makes up the Entler Hotel.
In 1809 James Brown leased the buildings from the Bedinger family and opened a grocery store in the corner building. A tavern, the Globe Tavern, began operating in the museum building about this time and offered overnight accommodations. Brown subleased space to the tavern. A saloon and kitchen were in the cellar, the dining room was on the first floor of the museum building, and the hotel lobby was entered from Princess Street.
Around 1811 Town Council (then called Town Trustees) began meeting in the tavern. Town elections were also held here.
Edward Lucas and Brown bought the hotel property from Bedinger in 1815. Brown sold the property in 1820 for $4,000 to Thomas Crown of Washington City. Daniel Entler, grandson of Philip Entler, Sr., became manager of the hotel.
In 1824 Daniel Entler became the proprietor of the entire complex which now contained 24 rooms, nineteen fireplaces, three cellars, and three kitchens. Until the 1850s it was known as Daniel Entler’s Tavern or Hotel. The name was then shortened to the Entler Hotel. Entler and his six unmarried children lived in the original Philip Entler house on the west end of the lot.
The Entler Hotel suffered great financial loss during the War Between the States. It served as a hospital after the Battle of Antietam in September of 1862, and as a place where Union soldiers stayed for much of the remainder of the war.
In 1873 the Entlers moved from Shepherdstown and although the family still owned the property they would never again operate the hotel. In 1913 the hotel was sold at public auction for $8,000 and after a year of restoration opened again as the Hotel Rumsey.
In 1917 the hotel closed for the last time and in 1921 Shepherd College acquired the hotel and the entire lot. The college converted the hotel into a men’s dormitory. In 1929 the dormitory was named Rumsey Hall.
It was used for a year during World war II as quarters for U.S. Navy and Air Force cadets training at Shepherd. In 1953 it was converted to apartments for Shepherd faculty members and in 1968 the building was used for storage.
Researched by: James C. Price (1995) and Don C. Wood (1997)
The Entler Hotel – A Chronology
Thomas Shepherd conveyed Lot No. 33 (Entler Hotel Corner) to Henry Cookus, who willed it to his son Christian.
Christian Cookus sold the west part of the lot to Philip Adam Entler, Sr. who built a large brick dwelling house upon it. In 1912, the house was destroyed by fire.
The foundation still stands, and accommodates the “Evie Van Ryzin Memorial Garden.”
Christian Cookus erected a two-story brick building that now houses the Historic Shepherdstown Museum. He also built a two-story brick building, with a porch entrance, facing Princess Street. Both structures were used as dwellings.
Daniel Bedinger bought the remaining portion of Lot No. 33.
Daniel Bedinger constructed a brick three-story building on the vacant portion of the lot. It butted against the museum building and adjoined the Princess Street building.
He now owned all of the “hotel” property.
James Brown leased the buildings from the Bedinger family. He opened a store in the corner room on the first floor of the corner building.About this time the Globe Tavern started operation in the museum building. This is the first indication of a tavern offering overnight accommodations. The saloon and kitchen were in the cellar, and the dining room was on the first floor of the museum building. The Princess Street entrance opened into the Hotel lobby.
James Brown still operated his store, but rented out the Globe Tavern. Thus began a succession of Globe Tavern operators.
Town elections and Trustee (town council) meetings were held at the tavern for a number of years.
Daniel Bedinger sold the hotel property to James Brown and Edward Lucas for $6,000.
James Brown sold the property to Thomas Crown, of Washington City, for $4,000, and continued operating the store in the corner room.
Thomas James operated the tavern and Daniel Entler, grandson of Philip Entler, Sr. was manager of the hotel
Daniel Entler bought a brick stable, on the north side of the alley behind the hotel building.
This became the livery stable for the hotel. It was torn down ca. 1920s.
Daniel Entler became the proprietor of the entire complex containing twenty-four rooms, nineteen fireplaces, three cellars and three kitchens.
Until the 1850, it was known as Daniel Entler’s Tavern or Daniel Entler’s Hotel. The name was then shortened to Entler’s Hotel.
Daniel Entler, his wife Margaret, and six unmarried children lived in the Entler House — at the west end of the lot.
Permanent occupants of the hotel included: a storekeeper, a deputy sheriff, 5 carpenters, 2 blacksmiths, 2 stonemasons, 2 physicians and a cabinetmaker.
The operation of the hotel was turned over to Daniel’s son, J.P.A. Enter.
The Entler Hotel suffered great financial loss during the War Between the States.
It served as a hospital after the Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862), and as a Union billet for most of the remainder of the war.
J.P.A. Entler moved to Piedmont, WV.
Although the Entler family still owned the property, no Entler would ever again be associated with its operation.
The hotel had numerous operators during the next four decades.
The corner grocery store closed and the room was converted into living quarters.
Fire destroyed the Entler house (the memorial garden area).
The hotel property was sold at public auction for $8,000.
After a year of restoration the hotel was opened again.
The name was changed to the Hotel Rumsey.
The hotel closed for the last time and the space was rented as apartments.
Shepherd College acquired the hotel and the old Entler house lot.
The building was converted into a men’s dormitory and in 1929 was renamed Rumsey Hall.
Used as quarters for U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force cadets taking preliminary training at Shepherd College.
Converted to Shepherd College faculty apartments.
The building became a storage warehouse.
The Historic Shepherdstown Commission organized to prevent the Entler Hotel from being demolished.
The property was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The property was acquired by the town of Shepherdstown from the State of West Virginia.
The building was again named the Entler Hotel and the organization, “Historic Shepherdstown,” began its restoration.
THE RESTORATION CONTINUES.
by Michael Langmyer
During the latter part of the building’s history, the Entler Hotel was owned by Shepherd College, later to become Shepherd University, from 1921 to 1973 when the state acquired the structure. To save the building, the first step was to have it listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which was done in late 1972. On March 29, 1978, Governor Rockefeller signed the bill that gave the building to the town of Shepherdstown for one dollar. Four months later on June 27 of that same year, the Corporation of Shepherdstown put the Historic Shepherdstown Commission (HSC) in charge of the administration for the historic building. Once the HSC acquired the building, its restoration began. The commission came up with three phases for the buildings restoration. The first phase dealt with stabilization and planning for the process, phase two focused on the restoration of the exterior of the building, and the third phase focused on the internal aspects of the buildings restoration. This three phase plan was scheduled to take 13 years to finish and was to make the building a place for recreation and a town museum. The museum was set up and opened in 1983; it is run by the HSC and is open today for visitors and the town’s citizens.
The end of its hotel days were coming up. One of the greatest fires the town had ever experienced happened on German Street. The fire started in the Entler Hotel and spread down the street from building to building for a block. After the fire was put out, the Entler lay in shambles with a brick frame left standing. After rebuilding, E.H. Reinhart kept it as a hotel and apartment housing until 1921 when he sold the building to the State Board of Control of West Virginia for $10,500. The Board of Control gave it to Shepherd College to become the first men’s dormitory for the college. When this came about the building received a new name to go with its new owner, Rumsey Hall, named after the inventor and Shepherdstown resident James Rumsey. It served this purpose and others as it served its time with Shepherd College until 1972 when Shepherd College wanted to destroy the building. During this time, the school “recommended that the building be torn down, at a cost of $17,000.” The town fought the school for the building through political action. [i]
The president of the Historic Shepherdstown Commission was at the forefront of this action to save the Historic Entler Hotel. Rev. John Grissinger first got in contact with the town and held a meeting about the buildings destruction. The community as a whole did not approve of the demolition and political activism went on from there. Gladys Hartzell, a member of town and at the meeting for the building, said that she had over 500 different signatures from locals who did not want to have the building destroyed. She also suggested that the building be put on the National Register of Historic Places to help save the building. Rev. Grissinger and others would start this work for the building and by the beginning of 1973; the demolition project had been stopped and the building was accepted by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation for the National Register listing. By April of that same year, the Historic Entler Hotel had been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[ii]
The work of Rev. Grissinger and the town was far from over. After saving the building from destruction from the school, it was not in the hands of the town. The building was owned by the Board of Regents in the state of West Virginia. Nothing dealing with the restoration of the building could start until the ownership issue was resolved, and finally in 1978, the state government passed a bill that sold the building from the state of West Virginia to the town of Shepherdstown for $1. Once in the hands of the town, they could start acquiring grants and funds to start the actual restoration of the building. The town put the Historic Shepherdstown Commission in charge of its restoration and maintenance of the building.[iii]
The formal handing over of the administration of the building happened on June 27 of 1978. The handing over of the administration of the building was between the Corporation of Shepherdstown, Mayor Bosley, and the Historic Shepherdstown Commission. Donald Patterson was the president of the commission at the time of the exchange of power. The main job for the commission during the restoration was to manage the restoration process, both the planning and the actual restoration process. With this, the Historic Shepherdstown Commission was given authority over the restoration process with choosing laborers, materials, and contracts for the actual restoration, as long as the contract, term of employment, or materials needed did not cost over $5,000. Anything over this amount has to be approved by the Corporation of Shepherdstown.[iv]
The HSC got started with the restoration with the forming of committees to oversee different aspects of the buildings restoration. They were called the “Rumsey Hall Project Committees” having five different committees in total. The first committee was the executive committee. This committee held the HSC board officers and the chairs of the finance committee and the membership committee. The president of the HSC at this point was Donald Patterson, the man who signed the agreement between the Corporation of Shepherdstown and the Historic Shepherdstown Commission. On this committee sits eight members of the commission. [v]
The fundraising committee was headed by Helen Goldsborough and had five members attached to it. The committee met the task of acquiring “funds and grants and other financial assistance from any and all State and Federal agencies”[vi] set forth by the Corp. of Shepherdstown. The committee of one is in correlation with the fundraising committee. Kathleen Barnhill was the chairmen and only member of the Publicity Committee. She was not specifically tied to a specific goal set by the agreement, but Mrs. Barnhill helped with the fundraising by getting people of the area aware of restoration efforts of the Entler Hotel.[vii]
Along with getting funds to support the restoration effort, a plan of action was needed along with a group of people to bring about those plans. The Architectural and Planning committee was in charge of this part of the restoration. This committee was headed by Ben Schley and had five people helping him with that task. This committee talked the task of handling “agreements and contracts for the employment of persons, corporations, firms or associations, to perform work in the design…and renovation”[viii] of the building.[ix]
The people in charge of the restoration process were the Restoration Committee, under the direction of John Farrior. Along with Mr. Farrior the committee had eight members attached to it, tied with the executive board for the largest committee the commission had. This was one of the most important committees for the restoration project because it dealt with the physical restoration of the building. This committee, along with the physical restoration, accomplished the goal set by the Corp. of Shepherdstown to make “agreements and contracts for obtaining and purchasing of brick, stone, cement, lumber, and all other building materials and labor”[x] of the restoration of the building. These five committees met the needs set by the Corp. of Shepherdstown for the restoration process. It led to a solid process for the buildings restoration. The committees came up with three phases for the restoration process.[xi]
The committee for the buildings restoration created a list of costs and what those costs are. The first phase focused on the stabilization of the structure and a plan to restore the building. These two points are needed before doing the actual restoration. In these two points are four parts to phase I. Those four parts were the stabilization of the building, an architectural plan, a temporary interior repair of the building, and the utilities and insurance of the building. The estimated cost and time of these four parts was over the span of three years and at a cost of $37,500.[xii] The commission had a bid for the completion of phase I with different construction companies from around the area. The bid was won by the Stampler Construction Corporation of Hagerstown Maryland for $65,500. The Stampler Construction Corporation estimated to have the work of phase I complete within a six month time frame, starting September of 1980.[xiii]
The architectural plan for phase I was split between two architects early in 1979, the architect’s George Smyth and Mark Orling. The Historic Shepherdstown Commission meet on May 12 of 1979 and the commission gave the contract too George Smyth located in Morgantown, West Virginia. Mr. Smyth’s job description in the contract between the Historic Shepherdstown Commission and George A. Smyth was to create “an adaptive use renovation of the Entler’s Hotel (Rumsey Hall) located on the corner of German and Princess Streets.” The budget set for the job came to a total of $60,000. From the get go, the cost of the restoration was higher than the proposal of phase I had stated. Between George Smyth for the architectural plan and the Stampler Construction Company, the cost for phase I amounted to over triple the initial budget proposed by the commission in phase I.[xiv]
The actual restoration done during phase I was the first floor of the eastern half of the building. This includes a reception room, and entrance hall, and some additional rooms with those. The room house different events such as different art exhibits, community gatherings, wedding receptions, and civic gatherings. Along with these repairs the restoration project had the help of George Smyth as the architect and the Stampler Construction Company as the construction crew to complete the job.[xv]
Phase II started the physical restoration of the building. This phase was five years in estimated length instead of three like the first phase. This is because it dealt with the actual restoration and not the planning of that restoration. The work of this part of the work was done by volunteers and locals. For this set of five years proposed, the building would have a new roof, a new porch (back porch), central heating for the building, a rehabilitation of the first floor, and utilities and insurance of the building. This came to an estimated total of $86,000 for the five year planned phase II. The actuality of phase II came to be the west wing of the building where the museum would be located.[xvi]
In the western half of the building, the idea was to create a museum about the history of Shepherdstown. This was a part of the original purpose of the buildings restoration, that it is “being restored by the Historic Shepherdstown Commission for use as a community center and museum.”[xvii] The museum part of the building had the purpose of telling the story of Shepherdstown and people of importance who have lived in the town over the years. By 1983, they had restored the first floor, two rooms, and four rooms of the second floor. This was the beginning of the museum. The downstairs section had a two room display that is set up as a parlor room during the hotels working days. The upstairs rooms were used to “display historical items dated from the late 1700’s to the late 1800’s.” They also housed the office for the Historic Shepherdstown Commission on the second floor of the building.[xviii]
One of the ideas for the museums, concerning the rooms, was about what to name them. The man put in charge of the task was Donald Patterson, who took the names of important people and played around with who was deserving of having a room named after them. His initial way of think about the naming process left him overwhelmed with names of importance. He said that “my first thought was to select individuals who were contemporary with the early days of the Hotel and Town,” and that he would have to be “too selective” of each individual person. His alternative that became the naming process was “to recommend memorializing a few prominent families.” Patterson decided that four families should be memorialized, those being the Shepherd family, the Swearingen family, the Morgan family, and the Bedinger family. Each of these families had important members of the community that helped bring the town to what it is today. An example of this is R.D. Shepherd who designed the top of McMurran Hall, or the Bedinger family who had a block of Shepherdstown informally named “Bedinger Row”, the section of Princess Street between German Street and High Street.[xix]
The third phase did the projects of phase II at the same time as the museum restoration. The third phase was completed in 1984 with a new porch on the back of the building and the stabilization the exterior walls of the building, the porch being one of the largest projects during the restoration process. The porch was falling apart and deteriorating at a rapid pace. The porch had to be taken down and completely rebuilt. The back side of the carriage house and the reception room had a single story porch while the German Street side of the building had a two story porch that connected with the single story porch. The main group that worked on this project was the carpentry students from James Rumsey Votech.[xx]
During the third phase of the restoration the chairman of the restoration committee, John Farrior, asked Dr. Charles Rhodes, the president of the school if they could help with the project at hand. He asked if “James Rumsey Votech would also like to take on the job of building the retaining wall and brick piers and concreting the pathway” and that he would “appreciate the consideration” of working towards the restoration process of the Entler Hotel (they had previously helped with the electrical work for the building). In the letter to Dr. Rhodes was attached a document of the proposed retaining wall and areaway. The proposed retaining wall had items such as a field stone veneer and the footing of the retaining wall. This note was dated in February, and within a month of its writing, the school was in the process of obtaining materials for the construction project. Mr. Ausherman was the teacher in charge of the carpentry students helping with the job. Some of the tools that he purchased for the job included saw’s, wrenches, and sanding belts. The students and teachers at James Rumsey Votech were dedicated to the outcome of this building. This phase ended in 1984 with the help of the students of James Rumsey and the community. [xxi]
The majority of the restoration was completed by 1984. This included the rooms that housed the museum, the reception room, the second floor offices, and the exterior of the building. The project was largely a community event and could not have been completed in such a timely manner without the support of the community for the restoration of the building. Two years after the majority of the restoration of the building was done, the bicentennial of the Entler hotel was held, 1786 to 1986. With the restoration of the building and the Historic Shepherdstown Commission keeping the building as a historical land mark, the anniversary was celebrated by the town and a reception was held at the hotel. Another celebration of the building was held in 1997-1998 with the 25th anniversary of the buildings restoration.
At some point the office that housed the Historic Shepherdstown Commission moved to an office on the second floor of the eastern side of the building, along with the archives and storage room for artifacts and historical items of importance to Shepherdstown. The restoration of those addition four rooms has been done in the museum and now has exhibits spanning from the founding of Shepherdstown and before through the 18th 19th and 20th century’s with the Civil War, the Morgan’s Grove Fair, the development of the Rural mailing system developed in Jefferson County, and others. The museum and the building are important town and community focal points that bring the community together for different events each year. It is a place of community, history, and celebration ever sense the restoration of the building was completed. The building continues today to be used as a place of community building, civic center, and museum.
[i] HSM 12, box 1, Newspaper Article Folder, Historic Shepherdstown, “The Restoration of the Entler Hotel” page 10.